Aspen nightlife abounds with options
December 19, 2007
ASPEN Did you survive the drives and flights and airports, the altitude adjustment, and the day on the slopes? Congrats; youre almost there. Now youve got to make it through the Aspen nights.Aspen doesnt shut down when the lifts have closed, not even close. You cant brag to your friends back home if you havent partaken in a few cocktails, and some dancing and live music.Theres a wide assortment of spots for the first cocktails of the evening. Highly recommended for the quintessential Aspen scene is the bar at the Little Nell, where the beverage service is overseen by master sommelier and award-winning winemaker Richard Betts. For the tequila lover, Jimmys restaurant is a must. If its a cozy spot for two youre looking for, tuck yourselves into a sofa, near the fireplace at the St. Regis Aspen lobby bar or head for The Wine Spot at the Hyatt Grand Aspen.Those wanting to get more of a local flavor are in luck at least for the moment. The application to redevelop the building that houses Cooper Street Pier has been rejected, giving the longtime watering hole an extension on its life. The place has good reason to party like every night is its last night.Other places to find a party raging are Club Chelsea, with Aspens most hopping dance floor; and Brunelleschis, a pizza shop that turns bar scene at night. As if Aspens club scene werent high-flying enough, there is a newcomer this winter: an airplane-themed club complete with waitresses dresses like stewardesses.While there are a wealth of places to toast a days skiing, there is a relative shortage of spots for live music. Fortunately, one of those happens to be on a world-class level. Belly Up Aspen, in three short years, has put itself on the concert map with its first-rate sound system and knack for bringing big-name acts that dont usually appear in a 450-person venue far from a major city. Belly Up has already seen the likes of B.B. King, Jimmy Buffett, Joe Cocker and various offspring of reggae king Bob Marley cross its stage. For a different kind of music scene, there is Syzygy, where the lights are low, and the music is cool jazz, delivered by local trumpeter Steve Peer and various guest players.Some years ago, if you told people you were heading downvalley for the night, they would laugh. But the joke is that the midvalley, with Carbondale, Basalt and the new Willits area, is rivaling Aspens nightlife (and beating it soundly when it comes to new dining spots). For dinner and drinks, dont miss Carbondales Six89 or Phat Thai, or the newcomer, Ella. In Basalt, the spot to hit is Tempranillo.And for an intimate live music experience, nothing in Aspen can beat Steves Guitars in downtown Carbondale, a tiny spot that can attract some unexpectedly big names like John Oates, a Woody Creek resident and half of the soul team Hall & Oates, who performs Jan. 11.More likely, though, you’ll find an impressive mix of bluegrass, folk, country, blues and old-timey acts making weekend stops at Steve’s, though the occasional band plugs in and rocks the room.